The CGRO Mission(1991 - 2000)

The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was the second of NASA's Great Observatories. Compton, at 17 tons, was the heaviest astrophysical payload ever flown at the time of its launch on April 5, 1991 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Compton was safely deorbited and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on June 4, 2000.

Compton had four instruments that covered an unprecedented six decades of the electromagnetic spectrum, from 30 keV to 30 GeV. In order of increasing spectral energy coverage, these instruments were the Burst And Transient Source Experiment (BATSE), the Oriented Scintillation Spectrometer Experiment (OSSE), the Imaging Compton Telescope (COMPTEL), and the Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope (EGRET). For each of the instruments, an improvement in sensitivity of better than a factor of ten was realized over previous missions.

The Observatory was named in honor of Dr. Arthur Holly Compton, who won the Nobel prize in physics for work on scattering of high-energy photons by electrons - a process which is central to the gamma-ray detection techniques of all four instruments.

CGRO Observation Timelines

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